Hi all. My name is Misha. I’m a 25 year old male, currently working for a Big-4 Public Accounting Firm. My girlfriend and companion on this trip is Riley, a lovely 25 year old gal, whose profession thus far has been a Pre-K Special Needs teacher. Although generally not considered part of “Corporate America,” the long hours, paperwork and time spent staring at a computer screen make life as a teacher not too different from life in the corporate world.
We all think about it. Leaving our all-too-familiar cubicles and setting off on endless travel fills our mind more often than we would admit to our employers. These thoughts allow us to get away from the fluorescent glow of our laptop screens and daydream about what could be: Watching a beautiful sunset on a quiet, white-sand beach in Tahiti; bundling beside the warmth of a bonfire beneath the tall canopies of an Amazonian rain forest; or riding a rickshaw through the bustling streets of New Delhi, admiring the impeccable architecture and culture.
Unfortunately, most of the time that’s where things end. In a daydream. What makes Riley and I different, is we are taking it one step further. We’re unplugged our computers, tossing our slacks, ties and high heels, selling off everything except the essentials and ditching the Corporate lifestyle for a world filled with travel and spontaneity. At least for now.
Riley and I are not hippies. Well, not entirely. We took the conventional route for most of our lives. We both received Master’s degrees in our respective fields and went on to work for very reputable employers. And to be honest, we’ve been mostly happy. Aside from the occasional Monday morning hangover following another Miami Dolphins’ loss, I wake up every morning excited to go to work. As does Riley. And there are few things more rewarding than solving a challenging problem in the audit room, or helping a non-verbal, child with autism develop communication skills. We have every intention to one day return to our respective fields and live a relatively conventional life, filled with routine and the occasional two-week vacation. In large part, that is exactly why we are going on this trip. So later in life we don’t wonder “what could have been?”
We first began contemplating leaving in early March 2014. We were sitting comfortably in our spacious airplane cabin, returning to our home-city of Atlanta, GA, from Chicago, IL. I had a 2 week business trip in Chicago and was fortunate enough to have Riley join me for the back end of it. Despite having been put up in a $450/night hotel in Downtown Chicago for 12 nights, atop of receiving $75 per diem for food, something still felt amiss. And it didn’t help that my mind was consumed by a story I had heard earlier that day; in which a young couple left their jobs as accountants to spend the rest of their lives traveling and picking up odd jobs to get by.
“Would you ever do that?” I asked Riley, shortly after the wheels of our Boeing 757 skidded to a screeching halt on the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta runway.
“I’d definitely do it,” Riley said, scrunching her face in disbelief that I would even ask such an obvious question.
“Yes. Would you?”
“I don’t think so.”
“When else would we be able to do something like that?” Riley asked, setting the wheels in motion for what would turn out to be a life changing decision.
Occasional daydreams became borderline obsessions. After a week or so of serious pondering and very little work productivity, I decided to bring up the topic again.
“Remember how I asked you about quitting our jobs and travelling?” I asked Riley as we sat eating dinner in her living room.
“Yes,” Riley said, appearing a bit more apprehensive than last time.
“I’ve given it some serious thought, and I think we should really do it.”
After some hesitation and mumbling, a flow of questions and concerns poured out of Riley’s mouth: money, insurance, jobs, safety, transportation, friends, family.
To the best of my knowledge and ability to bullshit, I answered everything. She seemed a bit more at ease.
“So we doing this?” I asked.
“Yup,” Riley replied.